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May 29, 2020
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Transitioning Your Team to Remote Work

by Grant Shonkwiler on 04/08/20 10:29:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


We as an industry have been thrust into an unprecedented time, one where all of our teams have moved to remote work. Having worked with teams remotely for the last three years I know that there are a host of challenges that can appear nearly impossible at first, but I promise you they aren't. In our book Remote Teamwork Tools we outline over 100 practices that can be used with remote teams to improve their work. Below I've included a few of those practices that I think will be most helpful to new teams as they navigate this new challenge. 

The book is available now.



First Time Remote Working Tips 

The top things you need to know when moving to remote work as an individual.

After you get your routine working, you might start to run into some problems with focus; this practice will provide you with information to keep focused and working. Note: Thank you to Jessica Damerst for contributing her expertise.


The Practice

  • Allow yourself to work in bursts; it's easy to get distracted at first. Try 45min of work and 15 min of break.
  • Move around once an hour
  • Keep any regular meetings you might have had before
  • Get some face to face time daily with your team.
  • Enjoy the silent uninterrupted times.
  • Depression & Anxiety make remote work much tougher. So be mindful of that
  • Block out work times in your calendar and keep track of the hours you plan to work
  • Never chastise yourself for getting distracted. Put a time limit on the distraction (10 more min) then jump back in.
  • Get in the zone and make sure the whole family knows you are not available.
  • Build an environment you want to work in. If you can have an office with a door that closes, this is best.
  • Prioritize sunshine and, if possible, fitness. Get moving for at least 30 min in a day or 5 min each hour.
  • You have to over-communicate compared to when you are in an office together.

Establish a Routine

When you first transition to remote work it’s important to have a routine.

The first challenge everyone faces when beginning to work remotely is that of putting on pants in the morning. Seriously it can be hard at first to learn how to set up a routine and schedule for yourself. When I first started working remotely, I spent more time playing Skyrim than working. Remember, you are still getting ready to go to work.

The Practice

Set up a daily routine that gets you ready to work.

  • Wakeup
  • Workout
  • Shower
  • Get ready
  • Quiet time/meditate
  • Breakfast
  • Work time
  • Lunch
  • Work time
  • Wrap up work
  • Free time


Leading a New Remote Team 

When your team moves to remote you as a leader/manager will also have to adjust.

One of the biggest challenges teams face when transitioning to remote work is people leadership/management. These practices/tips will help you begin to navigate this difficult topic.

The Practice

  • Keep your regular meetings, and replace them with digital meetings
  • Replicate any physical boards with digital boards
  • Have channels for each strike/scrum team to communicate
  • Have channels for each discipline to communicate
  • Utilize any tools you can to streamline reviews (code, art, product)
  • Encourage lots of screen sharing
  • Give people large chunks of time to work uninterrupted, use No Meetings Day and Silent Hour
  • Make sure that your workers who haven’t worked remotely before understand how best to do it and are supported.
    • First Time Remote Working Tips
  • Do a daily check-in with each person; it can be as simple as a good morning message
  • Make sure you get some face to face time with each person during the week.
  • Make sure everyone on the team has at least one hour of overlapping time.
  • Over Communicate everything, and make sure it was heard.

Related Practices

  • No Meetings Day
  • Silent Hour
  • First Time Remote Working Tips

Remote Company Culture

Make sure your company culture survives the shift to remote

It takes a lot of work to set up a solid company culture, but it's even more work to maintain the transition to remote. When building a new remote team from scratch, you can use a lot of the practices in this book to start to build a solid culture. This practice will cover maintaining your existing culture in the transition to remote working.

The Practice

  • Gather your leadership team together
  • Write down the core tenets of your culture
  • Under each tenet, write down how it is manifested in the daily work of your team, this will be multiple points
  • Once you have all of those put them into groups of what they are (communication, socializing, work, etc.)
  • Go through each group point by point and discuss how you will migrate each to a digital/remote tool
  • Compile your findings into a founding document and send it out to the team.
  • Meet with the team to discuss


  • Make sure to ask members of the team how they think each tenet is manifested
  • Migrate any teams or social groups to a digital version
  • Set aside social hours every month, people can play games or enjoy a happy hour on a video call together


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